Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Five women to watch at the Australian Open

Five women to watch at the Australian Open

Halep finally broke her Grand Slam duck in 2018 with French Open glory, but the Romanian crashed out of the first round in NY when losing 6-2 6-4 to Kanepi.

She arrives as second favourite with the bookies behind Williams, and seems unfazed both by her stratospheric rise and by the prospect of the huge support she could receive at the Australian Open, often dubbed the Asia-Pacific Grand Slam.

And Evert, an 18-time slam victor who will be part of ESPN's coverage of the tournament, believes that ultimately Williams' hefty list of accomplishments will outweigh the few contentious moments in her glittering career.

Here are some of the key dates to know for the 2019 Australian Open.

If the 37-year-old reaches the semis, it would be the first time she faced Osaka since their controversial and emotional US Open final last year.

"The fact that she dominated for so long and could break the record of grand slams, I think that will overshadow everything at the end of the day", former world No.1 Evert told a conference call.

Williams trails only Margaret Court in that category, and she came painfully close to tying her record previous year in at Wimbledon and the US Open, losing in the final of both events to Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka, respectively.

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The Australian Open women's draw didn't do any favors for Williams in her pursuit for her record-tying 24th Grand Slam Championship.

The 28-year-old Dane insists she can manage the debilitating auto-immune condition, which sometimes leaves her so exhausted she cannot raise her arms above her head.

The 31-year-old went into a bewildering slump in mid-2016 that only ended when he won Wimbledon last year, before he went on to claim his third US Open crown and move to 14 grand slam titles, three behind Rafa Nadal. "I enjoy Grand Slams the most", she said.

The Australian Open could be a return to normalcy for tennis, or it could simply reiterate that the new age is here to stay.

Williams was handed a warning by U.S. Open chair umpire Carlos Ramos last September for a coaching violation before being deducted a point for smashing her racket and later a game for a heated argument during her loss to Naomi Osaka. That's her swagger, I see that.

The world number one suffered a shock straight-sets defeat to the experienced Estonian in the opening round of the US Open last August.

"I always have insane big goals but I like to keep them to myself".

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